Study of slavery makes shortlist for Samuel Johnson book prize

Wed Oct 8, 2014 7:04pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - A book that traces the history of slavery over four centuries is among six books shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, one of the world's richest non-fiction awards.

Greg Grandin's "The Empire of Necessity", a history of slavery from the early 16th century until the middle of the 19th century, was among the works that made the short list announced on Thursday.

Also on the list are John Campbell's "Roy Jenkins", a portrait of the British Labour Party politician and writer, and Marion Coutts's "The Iceberg: A Memoir", which is an unflinching portrayal of her husband's slow death from a brain tumor.

Alison Light's "Common People" is about her English ancestors while Helen Macdonald's "H is for Hawk" is about a goshawk she trained to help her deal with the death of her father.

The sixth book is Caroline Moorehead's "Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France", about people in a remote mountain village in France who provided sanctuary for Jews and helped some of them to escape the Nazis.

Claire Tomalin, chair of judges, described the selections as "four books by women: two of them historical and two of them memoirs. Two books by men: a flawless biography and an extraordinarily enlightening study of slavery in the early nineteenth century".

The winner of the main prize, worth 20,000 pounds($32,000), will be announced on November 4.

(1 US dollar = 0.6228 British pound)

(Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Dominic Evans)